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U.S. supports call for Malian mutineers to step down

(Xinhua)

09:27, March 31, 2012

WASHINGTON, March 30 (Xinhua) -- The United States on Friday echoed the call of a regional bloc's for the mutinous soldiers in Mali to step down and allow for the return of democratic rule.

Noting that Washington was "very concerned" about the situation in the West African country, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said "We echo ECOWAS's call for the mutineers to step down and allow for a swift return for democratic rule and for presidential elections ultimately to take place."

"We do recognize that these mutineers have some grievances against the government, but their actions to date have not been the right way to have anyone to address those grievances in any kind of productive way," he told reporters at a regular news briefing.

The mutineers, unhappy over the Malian government's handling of the conflict in the north of the country, removed President Amadou Toumani Toure from power in a coup on March 22, just as the country was bracing itself for a fresh presidential election on April 29.

The U.S. responded by suspending part of its assistance, while the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) threatened to impose sanctions including border closure and accounts freezing, if constitutional order is not restored in the country as soon as possible.

"We believe that ECOWAS has taken an appropriate leadership role to date on this," Toner said. "We still believe there's time for this to reverse itself and for democratic rule to return to Mali and for elections to take place."

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